R.I. one step closer to welcoming up to 250 ‘humanitarian parolees’ from Afghanistan

More details expect to be made clear by the end of the week.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE)-  Rhode Island is one step closer to welcoming ‘humanitarian parolees’ from Afghanistan.

Dorcas International, a non-profit out of Providence that provide services and programs to refugees and immigrants, says last week the Federal Government asked Rhode Island, as well as other states such as Massachusetts, last week to open its doors to these evacuees.

Officials then provided the maximum number of evacuees the Ocean State could welcome as 250. Now, Dorcas International says they are waiting for the official number of parolees that will come from the Federal Government and then the redistribution process will begin.

What is a a humanitarian parolee vs. a refugee?

A humanitarian parolee is one of three ‘refugee’ statuses as defined by the Federal Government. The biggest difference is that a refugee (or an SIV, SI/ SQ) is eligible for benefits from the government, like food stamps, when a humanitarian parolee is not eligible for these benefits.

-SIV, Special Immigrant Visa. An Afghan who has worked directly with the U.S. Armed Forces, or other assisting government groups, for two years or more. This could be a job such as an interpreter. Automatically given the green life to stay in United States for life. Entitled to food stamps or any other assistance programs that Americans are.

-SI, SQ. An Afghan who has worked with an assisting government group for less than two years. Also, could be people who worked with other groups, such as the media. Entitled to food stamps or any other assistance programs that Americans are.

-Humanitarian parolees. An Afghan seeking asylum, but does not fit into either of the two categories above. Ex. An Afghan who has worked in women’s rights groups, therefore is targeted by the Taliban. Is not eligible for benefits that refugees are entitled to because of status. They are coming in legally but they are not granted automatic full status. After one year of living in the United States, they can apply for permanent status.

How would these humanitarian parolees be financially supported?

Dorcas International says the goal is to have these refugees supported by private groups. Cloutier says Dorcas International has been in talks with Governor McKee’s office to launch a campaign similar to ‘We R 1′ ,which helped those on immigration status during the pandemic.

“There are a lot of Rhode Islanders that are interested in helping, a lot of businesses and companies are interested in offering jobs and other things,” Cloutier says- referring to the large response from Rhode Islanders offering to help after Governor McKee issued a letter to President Biden.

When asked if this funding could come from tax payer’s pockets, Cloutier says, “I think given t he success of We R 1, I think private fundraising will be enough to support these folks”.

Where might they live/ when could they come?

Once the number of Afghan parolees is established for Rhode Island by the government, then these details will become more clear.

The first arrivals could be as soon as the end of September, after they complete the vetting process after entering the United States. The vetting process is when the FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies conduct background checks to make sure the individuals are safe to enter the United States.

Dorcas International says Providence is likely where these parolees will be relocated because of quick access to refugee programs and easy access to public transportation.

Categories: News, Rhode Island